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Massage therapy association accused of downplaying COVID-19

Last Updated May 31, 2020 at 6:30 pm EDT

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – A Quebec massage therapist is accusing her association of understating the seriousness of COVID-19 while also spreading false information about the virus.

Julia Turcotte also says the CPMDQ – the Commission des Praticiens en Médecine Douce du Québec – is refusing to give members the information they need to protect themselves or their clients.

Massage therapy in Quebec has been allowed to resume on June 1.

“I wrote an email just asking about my business and just asking for some information,” said Turcotte. “The vice-president replied that it’s nonsense the virus, and that people will stop believing the government’s lies. And if I needed some information, to search myself on the government websites.

“Where do I go now? Who do I report this to? Is this even allowed?”

The CPMDQ is one of 34 professional associations governing massage therapists in Quebec.

The group’s Facebook page has posts calling the virus a “common cold.” One video accuses the government of sharing fraudulent statistics on the number of deaths due to COVID-19 – that video was flagged as “false information” by the social network.

Turcotte says she reached out to the CPMDQ again when the government announced massage therapy could resume on June 1. The association responded with information related to reopening a business, but nothing specifically about therapeutic care.

That’s when Turcotte decided to switch associations and ask for a refund of her $350 membership fee.

“So she called and berated me, saying I’m ungrateful and the only member who’s ever complained,” said Turcotte. “She questioned my qualifications. When I asked her to act professional, she yelled, saying she doesn’t care because she’s the vice-president.”

Turcotte says the association then cancelled her membership with no refund.

The CPMDQ say they reached out the next day to apologize and reactivate the membership – the day before Turcotte spoke to CityNews.

In a statement, the CPMDQ said: “When I told Julia that there was a no-refund regulation for the annual union fees … she bluntly told me off on the phone and hung up on me. That’s when I informed her of the cancellation of her licence.

“Rather than resolve this issue peacefully, she turned around and then decides to seek her own justice by falsely accusing me of calling her names and tarnishing the CPMDQ’s reputation.

“We are talking about a union that has been active for the last 30 years of existence. I have never had in the past to deal with this kind of behaviour from a member. It is a first for me.”

Turcotte says she’s now been forced to rely on Facebook groups to get the information she needs to reopen.

“If there was a regulated governing order above these associations then it would all trickle down and everyone would say the same thing to all of their members,” she said. “And we wouldn’t have to rely on Facebook groups when we pay associations to help us with that.”